On 29 November, the RBM Partnership Board gave the go ahead for the further development of an Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria (AMFm) - a ground breaking initiative to improve access to safe, effective and affordable malaria medicines.
RBM Board endorses proposal to make malaria medicines cheaper and available to all
Addis Ababa – Thursday, November 29th, 2007: The Board of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) today gave the go ahead for the further development of an Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) - a ground breaking initiative to improve access to safe, effective and affordable malaria medicines.
They endorsed the technical design for an innovative mechanism that will bring down the cost of effective malaria treatments to between US$ 0.20-0.50 cents and make lifesaving medicines accessible to about four times more malaria sufferers than is currently the case .
The Board was meeting in Addis Ababa for the 13th board meeting of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership to discuss plans to escalate malaria prevention, treatment and care and achieve high level coverage with malaria prevention and treatment over much of the African continent.
“Countries have made tremendous progress in scaling up programs for prevention and treatment of malaria but more needs to be done to make good medicines affordable and available," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health of Ethiopia and Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board. "As ministers we welcome this new innovative facility which we expect will lower the price of effective antimalarials.”
More than 46 million insecticide treated nets have been distributed to date with finance supplied by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. However the up-take of ACTs has been slow and they are largely unavailable to malaria sufferers in remote areas.
Without effective treatment, malaria can kill a child within 24 hours. Although many African countries have adopted the WHO recommended Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) as first line treatment, the medicines are 10-40 times the price of ineffective treatments such as chloroquine, and remain too expensive or unavailable in the private and non-profit sectors where more than 50% of antimalarial treatments are obtained.
“If we really want to help malaria sufferers, effective medicines need to be available locally, in the health centres, through community health workers and in the pharmacy shops for the mothers to buy," stated Hon Professor David Homeli Mwakyusa, Minister of Health , United Republic of Tanzania. "RBM Partners and endemic countries have been engaged in assessing how this Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria can reach patients through all sectors.”
The RBM Board examined how the new Facility will allow buyers in both the public and private sectors to obtain ACTs at more affordable prices. The AMFm will co-pay purchases of ACTs so they become highly affordable and push ineffective treatments and resistance-promoting artemisinin monotherapies out of the market. The lower price will also help to reduce the incentive for the production and sale of counterfeit drugs.
It is expected that the AMFm will require USD 1.4-1.9 billion in funding over five years.
Currently malaria is estimated to cost US$12 billion a year in lost productivity in Africa alone. In countries with a very heavy malaria burden, the disease can account for as much as 40% of public health expenditure, 50% of inpatient admissions and up to 60% of outpatient visits.
Ministers and their partners on the RBM Board invited the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to consider taking on responsibility for managing the AMFm. Recognizing the need for thorough preparations the RBM Board set up a task team to fine tune design elements, secure funding for the facility and ensure adequate preparations before the facility can be launched.
"This breakthrough will save lives, reduce the huge economic burden of malaria and delay resistance to highly effective drugs," says Joy Phumaphi, the World Bank's Vice-President for Human Development and former Minister of Health of Botswana." The World Bank is pleased with this initiative and we encourage all partners to support the transition from the facility's design to its implementation."
“Today, we call on world leaders to support the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria, a financing mechanism that will provide artemisinin-based combination therapies at reduced prices for those who need them most”, says Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For further information please call: Prudence Smith (RBM, Geneva) + 41 79 477 1744 or Phil Hay (World Bank, Washington DC)) +1 202 409 2909.
The Roll Back Malaria Partnership
To provide a coordinated international approach to fighting malaria, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) was launched in 1998 by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
The Partnership now brings together governments of countries affected by malaria, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions around the common goal of halving the global burden of malaria by 2010.
Malaria poses one of the greatest threats to human life in the developing world. Of the estimated 1 million malaria deaths worldwide, 90% occur in Africa, killing mostly young children at a rate of one child every 30 seconds. Antimalarial medicines are a critical component in the fight against malaria, alongside other preventative interventions such as insecticide treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying.
The executive summary and full report on the technical design submitted at the Board is available at: http://rbm.who.int/partnership/tf/globalsubsidy/AMFmTechProposal.pdf
Additional information: http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/globalsubsidytaskforce.html